Dulcet & Studio Hot
Dulcet & Studio is a Japanese lifestyle cafe in Liang Court with a clean, cosy interior. It serves various Western-style mains and dishes like pasta but with a distinctively Japanese spin to them.
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So good I don't know what to say, really.
For a mere cafe, and given the size of its menu, "Dulcet & Studio" lives up, quite impressively, to the standards of the fastidious diner (me, that is). It ought to be a new food destination for aficionados of fusion food and Japanese-themed desserts. Such attempts elsewhere often end in hits and misses but, so far, my visits to this less than well-known cafe have been nothing short of excellent, and the grub never fails to satisfy.
As far as mains go, the cafe's offerings are limited -- a small selection of pastas, a few rice dishes, and a few Western mains like fish and chips. But, really, for me, it's the taste that matters and not the size of the menu. Perhaps it is precisely because the menu is so small that nearly every dish is stellar.
Their pastas, in particular, are a must-try. Texture-wise alone, they are already a hit, and something tells me that the noodles are hand-made. I wouldn't just say the noodles are cooked to al dente perfection; they are firm to the bite, as well-cooked pasta noodles should be, but at the same time delightfully chewy, very smooth and almost silk-like in texture.
Their Black Pig Bolognese Fettuccine is reminiscent of bak-chor mee, particularly with the use of the meepok-like fettuccine noodles, except slightly sweeter and much less spicy and vinegary than the local favourite, and with a hint of the tart, tangy flavour of tomato -- a mild, mellow, but far more delightful and heavenly flavour combo than the best bowl of bak-chor mee-pok, in my opinion. Well, let me just say that it is no less satisfying at least, if not more so. It's like your typical beef bolognese pasta, except that (a generous amount of) minced pork is used, so that every mouthful is a wonderful blend of the meatiness of pork and silken smoothness of their special noodles. And I can safely say that it is way better, more satisfying and flavourful, than any Western-style bolognese I've had.
Their squid ink pasta is another hit. Taglioni pasta is used for this one, which I thought was chewier and smoother than their fettuccine, and there were springy chunks of squid here and there to accompany every slurp of noodle. The flavours were fresh and had that savoury oomph associated with what some would call umami.
So the mains are awesome, but I think the desserts are even better and come in a wider array. Hovering near the entrance, it is impossible for any lover of sweets not to be enticed by all the pretty cakes on display which, I think, sets the standards for Japanese pastry. The cakes come in a variety of flavours, from rose to matcha, to plain cheese, and even the classic strawberry shortcake. They are most of them chiffon cakes, soft and spongy, and thickly smeared with moist, fresh cream on top and in the middle. You just can't visit this cafe without trying any of their cakes!
And their cream puffs too! That we had to eat their fat cream puffs with care or have cream all over our faces or on the table is testament enough to just how much cream is in the puff. If you're crazy about cream puffs, this is the place for you. Once you've had their cream puffs, you will probably never go back to Beard Papa or elsewhere satisfy your craving for puffs.
The awesome food aside, "Dulcet & Studio" is just what my ideal cafe is like -- quiet, not so well-frequented (at certain hours of the day), and with a warm, friendly, and ever-attentive waiting staff. The immaculate, white brick-wall decor is minimalist but visually appealing and puts one at ease. It's a perfect spot for the tired shopper or the student who desperately needs a quiet place for study (depending of course on the time of the day). It's best to come after lunch hours to avoid the crowd.